Chilly in Chile: South America Hit by Freak Cold Snap
(Aug. 6) -- The U.S. might be experiencing a hot, hot summer, but south of the border, things couldn't be more different. Latin America's southernmost regions are shivering through the coldest winter in decades, which has left vast swaths of Argentina and Brazil with snow, and caused millions of freshwater fish to freeze to death in Bolivia.
To get an idea of how unusual this icy snap is, you just have to take a look at the weather records of Argentina's capital Buenos Aires. It's snowed there three times since 1918 -- and two of those dustings have taken place in the past month. (The other was in July 2007).
And Chile's capital Santiago had an average temperature of just over 42 degrees last month, according to the University of Chile, making it the city's chilliest July since 1908. The Santiago Times said one in three city dwellers had suffered a respiratory illnesses in the past four weeks -- which could have been caused by the increased use of shoddy gas or coal heaters, as well as exposure to the cold -- and reported that a record frost had wrecked avocado, orange and lemon crops. The paper says exports of these fruits are now expected to fall by up to 40 percent.